“For those of us fortunate enough to have health insurance, it is easy to anticipate the costs we will pay for health care services,” writes Rachel Linn at the Center for Improving Value in Health Care blog in Colorado. “For example, I have a fixed co-pay plan, and know that if I visit my doctor, regardless of how much he or she will receive from my health insurance company, I will need to pay a $40 co-pay. When I delivered my son in the fall, I knew that I could expect to pay a set fee for each day I spent in the hospital. And, I know in order to receive these benefits, a portion of my paycheck is deducted each month to pay my portion of the premium to our health plan. Until I started at CIVHC, I lived in the ignorant bliss of looking at those little numbers printed on my health insurance card with little understanding of the total costs that my health insurance company was paying out, and how that impacted me long term. The co-pay number that patients are responsible for is the ‘tip of the iceberg’ when it comes to health care bills and payments, with the insurance payment typically being the largest portion of the amount that gets paid. For example, my son’s delivery only cost me two days’ worth of co-pays, but my health insurer paid almost $20k for our visit. So, why is it important to know this information? As we consistently see in the news, health care costs continue to rise, though patient paid portions don’t in all cases. CIVHC released a great example of this with the EpiPen Data Byte. In this analysis, the amount that patients were responsible for remained relatively unchanged while the health insurance portion steadily increased from 2009-2016. Though patients may not directly feel the impact of these increases in their co-pays or co-insurance payments, premiums continue to increase year over year to account for higher payments made on our behalf.” Rachel Linn, “Why should I care about how much my health care costs?” CIVHC.org.
Jeanne Pinder is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded... More by Jeanne Pinder